Sylheti (Sylheti: ꠍꠤꠟꠐꠤ, Bengali: সিলেটি) is an Indo-Aryan language, primarily spoken in the Sylhet Division of Bangladesh and in the Barak Valley of the Indian state of Assam. There is a substantial number of speakers in the Indian states of Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura (North Tripura) with smaller populations in Kolkata and Nagaland.
The word Silôṭi ('Sylheti') in Sylheti Nagari script
|Native to||Bangladesh, India|
|Region||Sylhet Division, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur|
|11 million (2007)|
|Sylheti Nagari, Bengali script|
Sylheti speakers within South Asia
The status of Sylheti is hotly disputed with some considering it a dialect of Bengali, while others consider it a separate language. There are significant differences in grammar and pronunciation as well as a lack of mutual intelligibility between the two varieties. There are greater differences between Sylheti and Bengali than between Sylheti and Assamese, which is recognised as a separate language. Most Sylhetis are at least bilingual to some degree, as Bengali is taught at all levels of education in Bangladesh. Sylhet was part of the ancient kingdom of Kamarupa, and Sylheti shares many common features with Assamese, including having a larger set of fricatives than other Eastern Indo-Aryan languages. According to George Abraham Grierson, "The inflections also differ from those of regular Bengali, and in one or two instances assimilate to those of Assamese". Considering the unique linguistic properties such as phoneme inventory, allophony, and inflectional morphology in particular and lexicon in general, Sylheti is often regarded as a separate language (Grierson 1928, Chatterjee 1939, Gordon 2005). Indeed, it was formerly written using its own script, Sylheti Nagari, which, although largely replaced with the Bengali script in recent times, is beginning to experience a revival in use.
Sylheti shares at least 80% of its lexicon with Bengali.
Sylheti is the common English spelling of the language name after the accepted British spelling of the Sylhet District. The Standard Bengali spelling of the name Sylheti is সিলেটি (Sileṭi). The Sylheti spelling is ꠍꠤꠟꠐꠤ or ছিলটি (Silôṭi). In Assamese it is called ছিলঠীয়া (Silothia).
Besides the native region it is also spoken by the Sylhetis living in North Tripura and the Meghalaya region. A significant amount of Sylheti migration to the United Kingdom and the United States from the 20th century has made Sylheti one of the most spoken languages of the Bangladeshi diaspora.
The Sylhet region became a part of the Bengal Sultanate in 1303 during the Conquest of Sylhet led by Shamsuddin Firoz Shah. This led to influence from Arabic and Persian. When the British arrived in 1765, Sylhet became a part of Assam leading to Assamese influence on the language. Following the 1947 referendum, majority decided to join East Bengal and the Hill Tracts to form East Pakistan. However, due to the Radcliffe Line, the districts of Karimganj, Hailakandi and Cachar were separated from Sylhet and joined Assam. Due to this separation, the Sylheti language has evolved into many dialects.
1. Jalalabadi Sylheti: This dialect is mostly spoken in the Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Habiganj districts. It is heavily influenced by Arabic and Persian due to arrival of Islam in the region. Named after Shah Jalal, it is mostly spoken by the Muslim population although Hindus in these areas may also speak in this dialect. Covering most of the Sylhet region, there are slight differences in vocabulary which can still be seen although it is one dialect. This dialect is also viewed as the standard version of Sylheti.
2. Lauṛi Sylheti/Sunamganji Sylheti: Named after the Lauṛ Kingdom which comprises modern-day Sunamganj as well as neighbouring districts. Baul Shah Abdul Karim is known for singing in this dialect. It may also be known as Sunamganji. This dialect is closer to the Bengali language than the standard Jalalabadi.
3. Jaintian Sylheti/Shillong Sylheti: Influenced by Sanskrit due to majority of speakers being Sylheti Hindus. It is spoken in the city of Shillong, Meghalaya and other Sylheti-populated areas of the Jaintia Hills. It is also known as Shillong Sylheti.
4. Barak Sylheti: Spoken in the Barak Valley and some other areas in Assam. It is influenced by the Assamese due to the population being part of the Assam state. It is also spoken by people of the North Tripura.
5. There is also a written form of Sylheti which was used to write Puthis and was identical to puthis written in Dobhashi Bengali due to both lacking the use of tatsama and using Perso-Arabic vocabulary as a replacement. Similar to Dobhashi, those written in Sylheti Nagri were paginated from right to left.
In ancient literature, Sylhet was referred as Shilahat and Shilahatta. In the 19th century, the British tea-planters in the area referred to the vernacular spoken in Surma and Barak Valleys as Sylheti language. In Assam, the language is still referred to as Sylheti.
During the British colonial period, a Sylheti student by the name of Moulvi Abdul Karim studying in London, England, after completing his education, spent several years in London and learned the printing trade. After returning home, he designed a woodblock type for Sylheti Nagari and founded the Islamia Press in Sylhet Town in about 1870. Other Sylheti presses were established in Sunamganj, Shillong and Kolkata. These presses fell out of use during the early 1970s. Since then, the Sylotinagri alphabet has been used mainly by linguists and academics. It gradually became very unpopular.
The script includes 5 independent vowels, 5 dependent vowels attached to a consonant letter and 27 consonants. The Sylheti abugida differs from the Bengali alphabet as it is a form of Kaithi, a script that belongs to the main group of North Indian scripts of Bihar. The writing system's main use was to record religious poetry, described as a rich language and easy to learn.
Campaigns started to rise in London during the mid-1970s to mid-1980s to recognise Sylheti as a language in its own right. During the mid-1970s, when the first mother-tongue classes were established for Bangladeshis by community activists, the classes were given in standard Bengali rather than the Sylheti dialect which triggered the campaign. During the 1980s, a recognition campaign for Sylheti took place in the area of Spitalfields, East End of London. One of the main organisations was the Bangladeshis' Educational Needs in Tower Hamlets (usually known by its acronym as BENTH). However this organisation collapsed in 1985 and with its demise, the pro-Sylheti campaign in the borough lost impetus. Nonetheless, Sylheti remains very widespread as a domestic language in working-class as well as upper-class Sylheti households in the United Kingdom.
A phrase in:
which literally means "one land's obscenity is another land's language", and can be roughly translated to convey that a similar word in one language can mean something very different in another. For example:
মেঘ megh in Standard Bengali means cloud .
নাড়া naṛa in Standard Bengali means to stir or to move .
কম্বল kômbôl in Standard Bengali means blanket.
Sylheti in Bengali script
Sylheti in Phonetic Romanization
Sylheti in IPA
Bengali in Bengali script
Bengali in Phonetic Romanization
Bengali in IPA
Below are the grammar similarities and differences appearing in a word to word comparison:
Sylheti word-to-word gloss
Bengali word-to-word gloss
Sylheti is a tonal language. The Indo-Aryan languages are not generally recognized for tone. There are two types of tonal contrasts in Sylheti: the emergence of high tone in the vowels following the loss of aspiration, and a low tone elsewhere.
Sylheti continues to have a long history of coexisting with other Tibeto-Burman languages such as various dialects of Kokborok, Reang which are tonal in nature. Even though there is no clear evidence of direct borrowing of lexical items from those tonal languages into Sylheti, there is still a possibility that the emergence of Sylheti tones is due to an areal feature as the indigenous speakers of Tibeto-Burman languages by and large use Sylheti as a common medium for interaction.
Sylheti is distinguished by its tonal characteristics and a wide range of fricative consonants corresponding to aspirated consonants in closely related languages and dialects such as Bengali; a lack of the breathy voiced stops; word-final stress; and a relatively large set of loanwords from Assamese, Standard Bengali and other Bengali dialects. Sylheti has affected the course of Standard Bengali in the rest of the state.
|Standard Bengali||Assamese||Sylheti||Transliteration||Meaning in English|
|/xɔdɔmbusi/||Touching the feet (A way showing respect)|
|/exzɔn manuʃ/||A person|
|/exʈa beʈa/||A man|
|/kioɾ/||Informal of Whereof|
|ꠇꠂꠘ꠆ꠘꠣ, ꠏꠤ, ꠙꠥꠠꠤ
Xôinna, Zi, Furi
|/xoinna/, /zi/, /ɸuɽi/||Daughter|
|মানৱজাতি, মানুহৰ জাতি
Manowzati, Manuhor zati
|জুইত পোৰা, জুইত সেকা
Zuit püra, Zuit xeka
|ভালোবাসা, প্রেম, পিরিতি
Bhalobasha, Prem, Piriti
|মৰম, ভালপোৱা, প্রেম, পিৰিটি
Morom, Bhalpüwa, Prem, Piriti
|ꠜꠣꠟꠣꠙꠣꠅꠣ, ꠙꠦꠞꠦꠝ, ꠙꠤꠞꠤꠔꠤ, ꠝꠢꠛ꠆ꠛꠔ
Balafawa, Ferem, Firiti, Môhôbbôt
|Firiti||/balaɸawa/, /ɸeɾem/, /ɸiɾit̪i/, /mɔɦɔbbɔt̪/||Love|
|সকল, সমস্ত, সব
Shôkôl, Shômôsto, Shôb
|সকলো, সব, চব
Xokolü; Xob; Sob
|ꠢꠇꠟ, ꠢꠇ꠆ꠇꠟ, ꠡꠛ
Hôxôl, Hôkkôl, Shôb
|/ɦɔxɔl/, /ɦɔkkɔl/, /ʃɔb/||All|
|/ɦat̪ bil/||Seven wetlands|
|/ɦat̪xɔɽa/||Citrus macroptera fruit|
|/ɦat̪baɾ/||Seven-times (Sylheti term for lots of time)|
|/kuʃnɔsib/||Good luck (Sylheti: God's Authority)|
|ভালো করে খান।
Bhalo kôre khan.
|ꠜꠣꠟꠣ ꠇꠞꠤ ꠈꠣꠃꠇ꠆ꠇꠣ, ꠜꠣꠟꠣ ꠑꠤꠇꠦ ꠈꠣꠃꠇ꠆ꠇꠣ।
Bala xôri xaukka, Bala tike xaukka.
|/bala xɔɾi xaukka/, /bala ʈike xaukka/||Bon appetit|
Stri, Ghôini, Pôtni
|স্বামী, বর, পতি
Shami, Bôr, Pôti
|গিৰি, পৈ, স্বামী
Swami, Giri, Pôti
|শুকটি, শুকান মাছ
Xukoti, Xukan mas
|/ɦuʈki/, /ɦukoin/||Sundried Fish|
|আপনার নাম কী?
Apnar nam ki?
|আপোনাৰ নাম কি?
Apünar nam ki?
|ꠀꠙꠘꠣꠞ ꠘꠣꠝ ꠇꠤꠔꠣ?
Afnar nam kita?
|/aɸnaɾ nam kit̪a/||What's your name?|
|ডাক্তার আসার পূর্বে রোগী মারা গেল।
Daktar ashar purbe rogi mara gelo
|ডাক্তৰ অহাৰ আগতেই ৰোগী মৰি গ’ল।
Daktor ohar agotei rügi mori gól
|ꠒꠣꠇ꠆ꠔꠞ ꠀꠅꠣꠞ ꠀꠉꠦꠃ ꠛꠦꠝꠣꠞꠤ ꠝꠞꠤ ꠉꠦꠟ।
Daxtôr awar ageu bemari môri gelo.
|/ɖaxt̪ɔɾ awaɾ ageu bemaɾi mɔɾi gelo/||Before the doctor came, the patient had died.|
|বহুদিন দেখা নাই।
Bohudin dekha nai.
|ꠛꠣꠇ꠆ꠇꠣ ꠖꠤꠘ ꠖꠦꠈꠍꠤ ꠘꠣ।
Bakka din dexsi na.
|/bakka d̪in d̪exsi na/||Long time, no see.|
|আপনি কি ভালো আছেন?
Apni ki bhalo Achen?
|আপুনি ভালে আছে নে?
Apuni bhale asê nê?
|ꠀꠙꠘꠦ ꠜꠣꠟꠣ ꠀꠍꠂꠘ ꠘꠤ?
Afne bala asôin ni?
|/bála asoin ni/||How are you?|
|আমি তোমাকে ভালোবাসি।
Ami tomake bhalobashi.
|মই তোমাক ভাল পাওঁ।
Moi tümak bhal paü.
|ꠀꠝꠤ ꠔꠥꠝꠣꠞꠦ ꠜꠣꠟꠣ ꠙꠣꠁ।
Ami tumare bala fai.
|/ami t̪umare bála ɸai/||I love you.|
|আমি ভুলে গিয়েছি।
Ami bhule giechi.
|মই পাহৰি গৈছোঁ।
Môi pahôri goisü.
|ꠀꠝꠤ ꠙꠣꠅꠞꠤ ꠟꠤꠍꠤ।
Ami faûri lisi.
|/ami ɸaʊ́ɾi lisi/||I have forgotten.|
|মাংসের ঝোলটা আমার খুব ভালো লেগেছে।
Mangsher jholṭa amar khub bhalo legeche.
|মাংসৰ তৰকাৰীখন মোৰ খুব ভাল লাগিছে।
Mangxor torkarikhon mür khub bhal lagise.
|ꠉꠥꠍꠔꠞ ꠍꠣꠟꠘꠐꠣ ꠀꠝꠣꠞ ꠈꠥꠛ ꠜꠣꠟꠣ ꠟꠣꠉꠍꠦ।
Gustôr salônṭa amar kub bala lagse.
|/gust̪ɔɾ salɔnʈa amaɾ kúb bála lagse/||I liked the meat curry.|
|শিলচৰ কোন ফালে/পিনে?
Xilsor kün fale/pine?
|ꠢꠤꠟꠌꠞ ꠇꠥꠘ ꠛꠣꠄ/ꠛꠣꠁꠖꠤ/ꠝꠥꠈꠣ?
Hilcôr kun bae/baidi/muka?
|/ɦil͡tʃɔɾ kun bae, baid̪i, muka/||Which way to Silchar?|
|/ʈaʈʈi kunxano, kunano, xano, xoi/||Where is the toilet?|
|/igu, ikʈa, iʈa kit̪a/||What is this?|
|/ɦigu, ɦikʈa, ɦiʈa kit̪a/||What is that?|
Sylheti phrasebook travel guide from WikivoyageAshadha
Ashadha or Aashaadha (Nepali: आषाढ Āsādh; Hindi: आषाढ़ Āṣārh; Assamese: আহাৰ ahar; Odia: ଆଷାଢ; Bengali: আষাঢ়; Sylheti: ꠀꠀꠠ aáṛ) is a month of the Hindu calendar (and of the present-day Nepali calendar) that corresponds to June/July in the Gregorian calendar. In India's national civil calendar, Āsāṛh is the third month of the year, beginning on 15 June and ending on 16 July. In Vedic Jyotish, Āsāṛh begins with the Sun's entry into Gemini. It is the first of the two months that comprise the monsoon season.
The corresponding month in the Bengali calendar, Aṣaṛh (Bengali: আষাঢ় "Monsoon"), is the third month.
In lunar religious calendars, Āsāṛh begins on a new moon and is usually the fourth month of the year.Balaganj Upazila
Balaganj (Bengali: বালাগঞ্জ, Sylheti: ꠛꠣꠟꠣꠉꠘ꠆ꠎ) is an upazila of Sylhet District in Sylhet Division, Bangladesh.Bengali numerals
Bengali numerals, also called Bengali–Assamese numerals, Assamese numerals (Bengali: সংখ্যা shôngkha, Assamese: সংখ্যা xoiŋkha), are the numeral system, originating from the Indian subcontinent, used in Bengali, Sylheti, Chittagonian, Assamese, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Chakma, Hajong and Meithei languages. It is used by more than 350 million people around the world or over 5% of the world's population. The Bengali–Assamese numerals are a variety of the Hindu–Arabic numerals.Bishwanath Upazila
Bishwanath (Bengali: বিশ্বনাথ, Sylheti: ꠛꠤꠡꠘꠣꠕ) is an Upazila of Sylhet District in the Division of Sylhet, Bangladesh.Boishakh
Boishakh (Bengali: বৈশাখ, Sylheti: Boishakh/Bohag, Nepali: बैशाख, Bôishakh, Baishakh) is the first month in the Assamese Calendar, Bengali Calendar and Nepali calendar. This month lies between the second half of April and the first half of May.Crore
A crore (; abbreviated cr) or koti denotes ten million (10,000,000 or 107 in scientific notation) and is equal to 100 lakh in the Indian numbering system as 1,00,00,000 with the local style of digit group separators (a lakh is equal to one hundred thousand and is written as 1,00,000).Dakshin Sunamganj Upazila
Dakshin Sunamganj (Bengali: দক্ষিণ সুনামগঞ্জ, Sylheti: ꠖꠇ꠆ꠈꠤꠘ ꠡꠥꠘꠣꠝꠉꠘ꠆ꠎ) is an Upazila of Sunamganj District in the Division of Sylhet, Bangladesh.Formerly part of Sunamganj Sadar Upazila, it was formed as a separate upazila in 2007.Indian numbering system
The Indian numbering system is used in the Indian subcontinent (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) and in Burma. The terms lakh (100,000 or 1,00,000 in the Indian system) and crore (10,000,000 or 1,00,00,000 in the Indian system) are used in Indian English to express large numbers. For example, in India 150,000 rupees becomes 1.5 lakh rupees, written as ₹1,50,000 or INR 1,50,000, while 30,000,000 (thirty million) rupees becomes 3 crore rupees, written as ₹3,00,00,000 with commas at the thousand, lakh, and crore levels, and 1,000,000,000 (one billion) rupees (one hundred crore rupees or one arab अरब ) is written ₹1,00,00,00,000. While there are specific terms for numbers larger than 1 crore, these are not commonly used, and most practitioners are not familiar with these. In common parlance, the thousand, lakh, crore terminology repeats for larger numbers. Thus 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) becomes 1 lakh crore, and is written as 10,00,00,00,00,000.
The Indian numbering is equal to the western numbering system from ones then tens then hundreds then thousand then ten thousand. After ten thousand, the Indian and the western numbering diverge. According to the Indian numbering system, after ten thousand, the next power of ten is one lakh, then ten lakh, then one crore, then ten crore, and so on. According to the Western numbering system, after ten thousand, the next power of ten is referred to as one hundred thousand, then one million, then ten million, then one hundred million, and so on. The two numbering systems are not functionally different — 10,000 (Indian system) = 10,000 (Western system) — but they assign different names to the same number.Kamtapuri language
Kamtapuri, Rangpuri or Rajbangshi is a Bengali-Assamese language spoken by the Koch-Rajbonshi people people in India, Rajbanshi and Tajpuria in Nepal, and in Bangladesh. Many are bilingual in either Bengali or Assamese.Kheer
Kheer is a rice pudding, originating from the Indian subcontinent, made by boiling with milk and sugar one of the following: rice, broken wheat, tapioca, vermicelli, sweet corn, etc. It is flavoured with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashews, pistachios, almonds or other dry fruits and nuts. It is typically served during a meal or as a dessert. It is also known in some regions as meetha bhaat, payasam, payasa, and phirni.Lungi
The lungi (/luŋɡi/) is a type of sarong, that originated in the Indian subcontinent, worn around the waist in Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. It is particularly popular in regions where the heat and humidity create an unpleasant climate for trousers.Pitha
Pitha (Assamese: পিঠা pitha, Bengali: পিঠে piṭhe, Odia: ପିଠା piṭha or Sylheti: ꠙꠤꠑꠣ fiṭa) is a type of rice cake from South Asia, common in Bangladesh, eastern India (states of Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar) and Nepal. Pithas are typically made of rice flour, although there are some types of pitha made of wheat flour. Less common types of pitha are made of palm or ol (a local root vegetable).Razai
Razai (Hindustani: रज़ाई; رزائی, Sylheti: ꠞꠣꠎꠣꠁ, ruh-zaa-ee; or ਰਜਾਈ, in Punjabi) is a bedquilt used in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, North India, Sylhet and Nepal. It is a type of bedding similar to a duvet or comforter. Razais usually have a cotton, silk or velvet cover which is stuffed with cotton wool. They can provide a great deal of warmth even in the very cold weather that can occur in these regions, primarily due to the insulating effects of the large amount of air trapped in the cotton wool.Sandesh (confectionery)
Sandesh (Bengali: সন্দেশ Shôndesh; Sylheti: ꠢꠣꠘꠖꠦꠡ / হান্দেশ Handesh; Hindi: संदेश) is a dessert, originating from the Bengal region in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, created with milk and sugar. Some recipes of Sandesh call for the use of chhena or paneer (which is made by curdling the milk and separating the whey from it) instead of milk itself. Some people in the region of Dhaka call it pranahara (literally, heart 'stealer') which is a softer kind of sandesh, made with mawa and the essence of curd.Sylhet Sixers
Sylhet Sixers (Bengali: সিলেট সিক্সার্স, Sylheti: ꠍꠤꠟꠦ꠆ꠑ ꠍꠤꠇꠍꠣꠞꠡ) is a professional cricket franchise team based in Sylhet, Bangladesh. The team competes in the Bangladesh Premier League. The franchise made their debut at the 2017 Bangladesh Premier League.
The Sixers play their home games at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium. The team is owned by Sylhet Sports Limited in care of Bangladesh's former Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith. His son, Shahed Muhith is the Chairman of team. The Sixers announced Waqar Younis as head coach and International Cricketer, David Warner as captain for the 6th edition of Bangladesh Premier League. Former Bangladesh National Cricket Team all-rounder Alok Kapali took over as captain after Warner's departure, due to injury.Voiced glottal fricative
The breathy-voiced glottal transition, commonly called a voiced glottal fricative, is a type of sound used in some spoken languages which patterns like a fricative or approximant consonant phonologically, but often lacks the usual phonetic characteristics of a consonant. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɦ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is h\.
In many languages, [ɦ] has no place or manner of articulation. Thus, it has been described as a breathy-voiced counterpart of the following vowel from a phonetic point of view. However, its characteristics are also influenced by the preceding vowels and whatever other sounds surround it. Therefore, it can be described as a segment whose only consistent feature is its breathy voice phonation in such languages. It may have real glottal constriction in a number of languages (such as Finnish), making it a fricative.
Lamé contrasts voiceless and voiced glottal fricatives.Voiceless bilabial fricative
The voiceless bilabial fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɸ⟩. For English-speakers, it is easiest to think of the sound as an f-sound made only with the lips, instead of the upper teeth and lower lip, or a blowing sound.Voiceless retroflex stop
The voiceless retroflex stop is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. This consonant is found as a phoneme mostly (though not exclusively) in two areas: India and Australia.Zakiganj Upazila
Zakiganj (Bengali: জকিগঞ্জ, Sylheti: ꠎꠇꠤꠉꠘ꠆ꠎ) is an Upazila of Sylhet District in Sylhet Division, Bangladesh.
Modern Indo-Aryan languages